The drop in migrant landings on Italian coasts - by 80 percent in 2018 - was due to the ''strengthened capacity of the Coast Guard'' in Libya and the ''sharp reduction in NGO ships'' off the North African coast. This in turn ''deprived traffickers of the possibility to exploit humanitarian activities'' by using old, low-cost vessels.
The analysis by the Italian secret services was included in a parliamentary report on migration flows, underscoring that also having an effect on the drop were ''more checks south of Libya, especially in Nigerien territory."
Increase in flows from Tunisia and Morocco
The drop in departures from Libya led to an increase in migrant flows from Tunisian and Morocco, along the western Mediterranean route, and from Greece and Turkey, along the eastern Mediterranean. The secret services say that, for the first time, arrivals on these two routes surpassed those of the central Mediterranean (57,000 from the west, 56,000 from the east, and about 23,000 from Libya).
They warned, however, that some things may yet set off ''fresh migration waves'': the precariousness of the Libyan situation, developments in other North African countries where there are ''economic and social problems that may affect the ability to contain migration trends," and the evolution of the conflict in Syrian and especially what happens in its northwestern province Idlib.
Powerful criminal groups control trafficking
On the criminal organizations that run trafficking rings, the secret services called them ''powerful groups'' operating both on the coast and in the sub-Saharan belt along the border between Chad and Sudan. They also stressed that they are active ''in all business phases," from the publication on social media of services offered - with routes, fees, and payment methods - to logistics assistance in the countries of destination. The groups, they say, are also able to ''adapt to developments on the group, shifting departure bases and itineraries according to support and convenience as well as stiff competition."